“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was a sweetly funny yet groundbreaking television show that followed a single associate news producer living in Minneapolis through her work and home life. Over the course of its tenure, it netted 29 total Primetime Emmy Awards.
While the show sometimes dealt with difficult topics, including the gender pay gap and anti-Semitism, it was often as cheerful and wholesome as Moore’s character herself. So that’s why it’s so hilarious to see outtakes from the show, including one in which the perpetually composed Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White) messes up her lines, or one in which Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), who tended to say things like “gee,” suddenly exclaims, “Sh–!”
Moore got her start on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” But even though her character started out as a sort of straight woman to Van Dyke’s Rob, merely setting up his lines, she displayed a knack for comedy that people in the industry – including the future creators of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” – soon noticed.
Watch the outtakes from this television classic here:
Comedienne Lucille Ball Once Complimented Moore
And they were in good company. As Jennifer Armstrong recounts in her book on Moore’s show, “Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted,” while Moore was working on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” no less a comedy great than Lucille Ball stopped by to watch her. Ball’s production company, Desilu, owned the lot where they shot “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
Ball climbed down from the catwalk above the space where the show’s cast had been rehearsing. She walked past Moore, then reversed herself, and stared down Moore eye-to-eye. “You’re very good,” Ball told Moore, before moving on.
‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Was Originally About a Divorcee
In the show’s pilot episode, Mary Richards (Moore) arrives in Minneapolis starting a new life after a broken engagement. But when “Mary Tyler Moore Show” co-creators James L. Brooks and Allan Burns pitched the idea to Moore and her husband, TV executive Grant Tinker, Richards was a divorcee.
The idea did not go over well in pitch meetings. CBS executives brought in a market researcher to set Brooks and Burns straight.
“Our research says American audiences won’t tolerate divorce in a lead of a series any more than they will tolerate Jews, people with mustaches and people who live in New York,” the short-sighted market researcher informed them.
But Moore reportedly liked their idea. She was divorced herself, having married her high school sweetheart at a young age, and she related to their vision of a character who had married the wrong man and had to start her life over.
They eventually reached a compromise – Mary’s former fiancée even shows up in one episode – and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was born.